Canary Islands Physical geography

Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the archipelago. Gran Canaria, with 865,070 inhabitants, is both the Canary Islands’ second most populous island, and the third most populous one in Spain after Tenerife (966,354 inhabitants) and Majorca (896,038 inhabitants). The island of Fuerteventura is the second largest in the archipelago and located 100 km (62 mi) from the African coast.

The islands form the Macaronesia ecoregion with the Azores, Cape Verde, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. The Canary Islands is the largest and most populated archipelago of the Macaronesia region. The archipelago consists of seven large and several smaller islands, all of which are volcanic in origin. The antipodes of the Canary Islands are found in the Pacific Ocean, between New Zealand, New Caledonia, Australia and the ocean.

According to the position of the islands with respect to the north-east trade winds, the climate can be mild and wet or very dry. Several native species form laurisilva forests.

As a consequence, the individual islands in the Canary archipelago tend to have distinct microclimates. Those islands such as El Hierro, La Palma and La Gomera lying to the west of the archipelago have a climate which is influenced by the moist Canary Current. They are well vegetated even at low levels and have extensive tracts of sub-tropical laurisilva forest. As one travels east toward the African coast, the influence of the current diminishes, and the islands become increasingly arid. Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, the islands which are closest to the African mainland, are effectively desert or semi desert. Gran Canaria is known as a “continent in miniature” for its diverse landscapes like Maspalomas and Roque Nublo. In terms of its climate Tenerife is particularly interesting. The north of the island lies under the influence of the moist Atlantic winds and is well vegetated, while the south of the island around the tourist resorts of Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos is arid. The island rises to almost 4,000 m (13,000 ft) above sea level, and at altitude, in the cool relatively wet climate, forests of the endemic pine Pinus canariensis thrive. Many of the plant species in the Canary Islands, like the Canary Island pine and the dragon tree, Dracaena draco are endemic, as noted by Sabin Berthelot and Philip Barker Webb in their work, L’Histoire Naturelle des Îles Canaries (1835–50).

Canary Islands Climate

The climate is warm subtropical and generally semidesertic, moderated by the sea and in summer by the trade winds. There are a number of microclimates and the classifications range mainly from semi-arid to desert. According to Köppen, most of the Canary Islands have a hot desert climate (BWh) and a hot semi-arid climate (BSh), caused...

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Canary Islands Geology

The seven major islands, one minor island, and several small islets were originally volcanic islands, formed by the Canary hotspot. The Canary Islands is the only place in Spain where volcanic eruptions have been recorded during the Modern Era, with some volcanoes still active (El Hierro, 2011). Volcanic islands such as those in the Canary...

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Canary Islands Natural symbols

The official natural symbols associated with Canary Islands are the bird Serinus canaria (canary) and the Phoenix canariensis palm.

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Canary Islands National parks

Four of Spain's thirteen national parks are located in the Canary Islands, more than any other autonomous community. Two of these have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the other two are part of Biosphere Reserves. Teide National Park is the oldest and largest national park in the Canary Islands and one of the...

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